SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new project is underway in San Francisco that many hope will ease the Bay Area commute and serve the region in emergencies.
San Francisco officials put their shovels in the dirt Thursday morning and symbolically broke ground on a $79 million project.
Work begins now to expand the downtown ferry terminal from two gates to four gates and add more space to park vessels.
RELATED: Sausalito ferry cancels morning service due to repairs
The new terminal would also be able to accommodate extra ferry service to and from the city.
The new development comes as ridership on the bay is up 29-percent since 2015, now at 2.7 million passengers a year.
"If we could double it again in the next few years, we can actually relieve about 1.5 lanes of traffic congestion on the bay bridge," said Jim Wunderman, the President and CEO of the Bay Area Council.
"And it's not just for convenience. Ferry service is going to be there when the next big one hits," said San Francisco mayor Ed Lee.
RELATED: Hydrus ferry unveiled at Pier 9 in San Francisco
Additional improvements include a new plaza, expanded pedestrian promenade, and canopies for waiting passengers.
The project is funded by a voter-approved bridge toll hike and federal dollars. It's set to be done in 2 years.
There are also plans for more terminals around the Bay Area including Redwood City, San Francisco's Mission Bay, Seaplane Lagoon in Alameda, Berkeley, Richmond and Hercules.
New ferry terminal expansion project breaks ground in San Francisco
More TOP STORIES News